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Senate panel advances three spending bills

Senate panel advances three spending bills
© Greg Nash

The Senate Appropriations Committee on Thursday advanced three spending bills for fiscal 2019 as it moves ahead with a process that has been largely stilted in recent years.

The panel approved $54.4 billion for state and foreign operations, $23.7 billion for financial services and $55.2 billion for Homeland Security.

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The measures will advance to the full Senate, which is expected to approve three other spending bills later on Thursday.

Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard ShelbyRichard Craig ShelbyDisasters become big chunk of U.S. deficit Lawmakers, Wall Street shrug off Trump's escalating Fed attacks Florida politics play into disaster relief debate MORE (R-Ala.) and Vice Chairman Patrick LeahyPatrick Joseph LeahyCorker: US must determine responsibility in Saudi journalist's death Senate Dems ask Trump to disclose financial ties to Saudi Arabia Saudi mystery drives wedge between Trump, GOP MORE (D-Vt.) have now marked up 10 of the 12 appropriations bills for fiscal 2019, setting them on the path to complete an appropriations process closer to regular order than has been seen in recent years. In fiscal 2018, the panel finished approving all 12 bills well after the fiscal year began on Oct. 1, and none passed on the Senate floor until March, where they were combined into an omnibus bill.

One departure from the regular process, however, is the lack of a formal Senate budget resolution, which has not been released or brought up in Senate Budget Committee. A bipartisan agreement earlier in the year set out spending caps for 2019, which has in large part supplanted the role of the budget resolution.

The three bills that passed committee on Thursday largely ignored President TrumpDonald John TrumpFive takeaways from Gillum and DeSantis’s first debate GOP warns economy will tank if Dems win Gorbachev calls Trump's withdrawal from arms treaty 'a mistake' MORE’s budget request and increased funding for congressional priorities.

The homeland security bill increased spending on immigration and border protection and the Federal Emergency Management Agency, as well as providing $1.6 billion for pedestrian fencing along the U.S-Mexico border.

“We have a very strong bill that funds critical Homeland Security priorities and meets our national security needs, providing the department and its nearly 250,000 employees with the resources they need to carry out a broad set of missions around the world,” Sen. Shelley Moore CapitoShelley Wellons Moore CapitoThe Hill's Morning Report — Presented by PhRMA — Dem path to a Senate majority narrows GOP shrugs off dire study warning of global warming Overnight Health Care — Presented by the Coalition for Affordable Prescription Drugs — Senators face Wednesday vote on Trump health plans rule | Trump officials plan downtime for ObamaCare website | Lawmakers push for action on reducing maternal deaths MORE (R-W.Va.), who chairs the Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security, said in a statement.

The foreign affairs bill included provisions requiring any reorganization efforts to consult with and notify the Appropriations Committee. It keeps foreign affairs staffing at 2016 levels but provides no funding for a variety of United Nations funds, such as UNESCO, the U.N. Population Fund and the Green Climate Fund.

“The challenges we face are increasingly dynamic and complex, with hostile regimes seeking to undermine our standing on the world’s stage at every turn," Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamLawmakers point fingers at Saudi crown prince in Khashoggi's death The Memo: Trump in a corner on Saudi Arabia Trump should stick to his guns and close failed South Carolina nuclear MOX project MORE (R-S.C.), chairman of the Appropriations subcommittee on foreign operations, said in a committee release. "Now is not the time for retreat.”

The financial services bill boosted funding for the Treasury Department’s Office of Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, which is responsible for sanctions, and would provide $77 million for the IRS to implement the 2017 tax law. The measure also would fund a variety of oversight bodies such as the Federal Trade Commission, the Federal Communications Commission and the Securities and Exchange Commission.

“This is a responsible bill that boosts our national economy, financial security, and government accountability, and I urge the Senate to pass it without delay,” Sen. James LankfordJames Paul LankfordCollusion judgment looms for key Senate panel GOP loads up lame-duck agenda as House control teeters The Hill's Morning Report — Kavanaugh, Ford saga approaches bitter end MORE (R-Okla.), chairman of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government, said in a committee release.